Fall 2017 CUTTINGEDGE Products 9 With so many outdoor projects involving structures that are designed to bring a semblance of comfort and control outside the home, retailers must keep an eye toward items designed to work outdoors. An overhead structure can help extend the outdoor season for many homeowners, and the addition of weather-resistant fans and lighting make these outdoor areas more livable year-round. Following that trend, the outdoor patio area might as well be considered a second dining room for many homeowners. Outdoor furniture that looks like it could fit in the living room will continue to be a highlight for many homeowners. Outdoor heating elements like tower heaters or wall-mounted heaters keep outdoor dining areas warm well into the evening, even as the weather turns chilly in the fall. To keep those evenings going even longer, homeowners are upgrading their lighting systems. The Houzz study reports 45 percent of homeowners are planning or undertaking an upgrade to their outdoor lighting. Retailers should keep up with advancements in lighting systems, including smart systems that can hook into a home’s Wi-Fi signal and be controlled through smartphone apps. Integrated systems can combine outdoor lighting to other products in the home, whether it be home security or sound systems, to both entertain consumers and give peace of mind. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS Once the grand stage for neighbors to show off their homes, the front lawn is no longer the focal point it once was. Homeowners are giving less space to the lawn and more space to landscaping, such as trees, flowers and shrubs. Of those homeowners reducing their lawn space, the Houzz study saw 40 percent doing so for environmental reasons, which could include concerns like chemicals used in fertilizers as well as the carbon cost of lawn upkeep. Of those reducing the sizes of their lawns, 44 percent were focusing on the front of the house. Groundcover plants are trending for replacement options in the front yard, the Houzz study says, with mulch, garden beds and hardscapes following behind. Retailers should be knowledgeable of what groundcover plants work in their climate, as well as what plants are tolerant of foot traffic. Some, like Irish moss, can stand up to foot traffic better than others and cover a lot of ground. Landscaping, like step stones, keeps even the more tolerant groundcover plants beautiful and thriving as a lawn replacement. Of those homeowners reducing their lawn space, the Houzz study saw 40 percent doing so for environmental reasons. 8-25_Lawn&Garden_Fall17.indd 9 7/19/17 8:50 AM